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School Consolidation and Student Achievement


  • Monique De Haan
  • Edwin Leuven
  • Hessel Oosterbeek


What is the effect of school consolidation on student achievement? Theory gives little guidance because possibly positive effects from larger school size can be offset by negative effects from reduced choice and competition. We investigate these issues empirically by analyzing the effects on students’ achievement of a consolidation reform that took place in Dutch primary education in the mid-1990s. The reform was implemented by increasing the minimum required school size, leading to an increase in actual school size and a reduction in the number of schools. For identification, we exploit variation between municipalities. We find that an increase in the minimum required school size of 10% has a small positive effect on student achievement of 0.72% of a standard deviation. Further analysis indicates that this effect can be mainly attributed to the increase in actual school size; reduced competition and choice do not seem to have harmed student achievement. We also find no evidence that the consolidation effect is driven by reduced school segregation or the elimination of small schools that were—given their size—underperforming (JEL I21, I22, H75, D40).

Suggested Citation

  • Monique De Haan & Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2016. "School Consolidation and Student Achievement," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(4), pages 816-839.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:32:y:2016:i:4:p:816-839.

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    Cited by:

    1. Dieter Verhaest & Stef Adriaenssens, 2022. "Compensating wage differentials in formal and informal jobs," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 75(1), pages 106-126, February.
    2. Crocker H. Liu & Patrick S. Smith, 2023. "School quality as a catalyst for bidding wars and new housing development," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 51(4), pages 785-818, July.
    3. Taghizadeh, Jonas Larsson, 2020. "Effects of school closures on displaced students and future cohorts," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    4. Taghizadeh, Jonas Larsson, 2020. "Are students in receiving schools hurt by the closing of low-Performing schools? Effects of school closures on receiving schools in Sweden 2000–2016," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    5. Holmlund, Helena & Böhlmark, Anders, 2019. "Does grade configuration matter? Effects of school reorganisation on pupils’ educational experience," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 14-26.
    6. Vinitha Varghese, 2022. "Impact of school consolidation on enrolment and achievement: Evidence from India," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2022-150, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. Beuchert, Louise & Humlum, Maria Knoth & Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Smith, Nina, 2018. "The short-term effects of school consolidation on student achievement: Evidence of disruption?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 31-47.
    8. Astrid Marie Jorde Sandsør & Torberg Falch & Bjarne Strøm, 2022. "Long‐run Effects of Local Government Mergers on Educational Attainment and Income," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 84(1), pages 185-213, February.
    9. Koussihouèdé, Oswald, 2020. "Primary school size and learning achievement in Senegal: Testing the quantity–quality trade-off," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    10. Oskari Harjunen & Tuukka Saarimaa & Janne Tukiainen, 2021. "Love Thy (Elected) Neighbor? Residential Segregation, Political Representation and Local Public Goods," Discussion Papers 138, Aboa Centre for Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General


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